The LDS Church has a history of embracing technology to communicate its message to the community with its first radio broadcast in 1922 and first video satellite broadcast in 1972. Presently, in addition to its semi-annual General Conference and many independent productions, the church produces and broadcasts “Music and The Spoken Word” live to BYU TV and KSL TV every Sunday morning and later distributed to more than 2200 TV and radio stations. If you’ve ever seen a broadcast, you know that in addition to the beautiful words and music, it is visually inspiring.
During our tour of the LDS Conference Center which was part of our AV Week (a week set aside for the audiovisual community to celebrate, promote and share the impacts of the AV industry across the world) activities, we were able to get a firsthand look at the video production process.
Guy and Jeff testing out the robotic cameras
While I’ve talked a lot about the audio installations (after all we are all about audio here at Listen), but the video installation is second to none in producing feature films and educational videos. Using Sony digital HD technology, there are more than 120 fiber drops throughout the campus. Several control rooms handle all the steps of production. The video capture control room could easily be confused with a teenagers gaming room. We had a chance to play around with the mounted cameras using the joystick fashioned control. I was amazed to see how a camera that was mounted on the top balcony of the 1+ million square foot building could zoom in on the wall at the front of the room, showing the texture details in the paint.
In the video control room everything comes together. During a production, the director calls the shots on everything. All of the camera, lighting and audio are choreographed ahead of time, but there are constantly changes and mishaps that need to be taken into account.
Let’s talk lighting for a minute. With 70 dimmer racks and approximately 100 dimmers in each one, there are over 6000 controllable outlets and dimmers. There are stage lights, lights that project images on the walls and lights that change the look of the famous organ pipes. When you are in the audience of a major production, it’s as if you are center stage. From the lighting control room the computer has a map of the stage allowing you to easily use pre-programmed settings or to try your own. Once again, we were allowed to have a little fun as we experimented with the controls (you should have seen the 70’s Technicolor transformation the organ pipes made)!
Amanda testing out the lighting controls
Now for a little more audio talk! From the audio mix room they run 2 HD systems simultaneously. Everything is multi-tracked through Pro Tools so that if they get to the end of a show and need to redo a piece, they can pull that mix and it is recorded and mixed again within 5 minutes. While it is currently a digital set up, they are actually in the process of going back to analog with and API Legacy Vision consul. Digital audio just doesn’t have the same quality as analog and doesn’t offer the flexibility that is necessary. We listened to a recording of the Tabernacle Choir accompanied by the Orchestra at Temple Square and I really noticed all of the layers of sound that contributed to the piece.
Thanks again to Jason McFarland and his team for providing this tour. Being new to the audiovisual industry, I am so glad that I could experience such an impressive display of AV at its best.